Nancy Tenuta is one of only six female winery owners in the Livermore Valley, due east of San Francisco. Tenuta and her then-husband Ron purchased a 22-acre lot just east of the Ruby Hill subdivision in Livermore in June 2000 with the vision of immersing themselves in the world of wine. There, 14 acres of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay were being grown in about a 50/50 mix. All of the vines were between 12 and 25 years old at the time. Over the next three years, the Tenutas built a 16,000-square-foot winery and a 5,000-square-foot estate home nearby. In all, they invested more than $5 million in the project, money that Nancy Tenuta collected using a variety of “creative” means, according to her, given that banks aren’t fond of such risky ventures.
Nancy Tenuta graduated from Portland State University in 1981, and spent the next twenty years in the business world. She held a number of sales positions, and in the 1990s she traded stocks. Ron Tenuta was general manager of Protection Services Industries in Livermore, which specializes in commercial security.
With the owner’s extensive business savvy, Tenuta Vineyards quickly became Livermore’s third-largest winery in a valley that has produced wine for more than 150 years. The first and second spots are held by Wente Vineyards (300,000 cases a year) and Concannon Vineyards (200,000 cases a year) respectively. As they began to plan their operation, the Tenutas researched the local market and discovered that many wineries there were small and had no production facilities or space to store their wine. Therefor, they ambitiously built a winery facility much larger than they needed so they could provide custom crushing, sorting, barrel storage, bottling, and even vineyard maintenance to others. Because of this, Tenuta’s own wines are a minority of the operation. Only 3,000 cases of the 30,000 produced annually is released under the Tenuta label. The rest is private labeled for 15 other growers in the area. Continue reading “Tenuta Vineyards”